06/16/2019 - 16:36   Tereza Žuffová-Kunčová

“Uighurs” are an oppressed minority group of Chinese Muslims living in Northwest China. While many voices have called for stopping China and its actions against this minority, it remains relatively unknown that the US has also played an important role in the violations of the human rights of this minority.

Alleged terrorists

As a result of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the US began the “War on Terror,” a military campaign launched by President George W. Bush. The campaign was against the terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, which operated in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it also combated other terrorist groups throughout the region.

05/25/2019 - 13:18   Douglas Radcliff

The debate over vaccinations dates back to 1998 to a study conducted by a later discredited Dr. Andrew Wakefield suggesting that vaccinations led to a rise in autism among vaccinated children. Since then, the debate has taken a foothold, with numerous people speaking against state and medically recommended vaccines, ultimately resulting in a national security, public health and human rights issue.

The Debate

Although there is no federal law in the U.S. requiring vaccines, all 50 states require various vaccines for children to attend any public school, with certain exemptions for medical, religious or philosophical reasons. Additionally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends vaccines. Almost all, regardless of their side, would say that the debate focuses on the safety and health of children. Many people against vaccines feel that vaccines have the ability to cause children to develop autism, ADHD, and diabetes, blaming corrupt government officials, greedy pharmaceutical companies and biased scientific studies. They feel that children’s immune systems can naturally deal with infections and that injecting a questionable vaccine will cause side effects.

05/01/2019 - 13:13   Jan Lhotský

The International Criminal Court, seated in The Hague, prosecutes perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. A Czech judge and leading expert on criminal law, Robert Fremr, is one of its 18 judges. What does this role encompass?  What are Judge Fremr’s views on the Court’s current problems?

The interview was published in May 2017, in Czech, now we also present it in English.

Robert Fremr spent his whole career life focusing on criminal law. During his work as a judge, he worked on a number of courts and in 2004 he was appointed to serve at the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic. Apart from this, Judge Fremr taught criminal law at university and between the years 2006-2008 and 2010-2012 he served as ad litem judge at the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). This international experience helped his candidacy for the International Criminal Court (ICC), where he has worked as a judge since March 2012.

04/08/2019 - 21:56   Jan Lhotský

Professor Manfred Nowak is a widely respected human rights expert who in 2007 started to promote a reform of the UN human rights treaty bodies that would contain the establishment of the so-called World Court of Human Rights. How does he perceive this idea today?

The interview was published in March 2016, in Czech, now we also present it in English. 

The UN human rights treaty bodies are control mechanisms that monitor the respect for a number of human rights treaties at the universal level (e.g. the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights). However, the functioning of the treaty bodies is in the long-term, quite inefficient and therefore, Manfred Nowak suggests that in the future these committees (e.g. the Human Rights Committee) should focus mainly on reviewing state reports.

03/29/2019 - 20:37   Douglas Radcliff

The Absher App is an application launched by the Interior Ministry of the Saudi government in 2015. Some focus on how the app reduces bureaucracy while others emphasis the ability of the app to allow men to track the location of women. Since its release it has generated minimal public discussion, however, the debate has been increasing.

In order to fully understand and appreciate the significance of this App, one must first be familiar with the “guardianship laws” existent in Saudi Arabia. Very briefly, guardianship laws grant certain rights to a “guardian” of a woman. Every woman in Saudi Arabia, no matter how old she is, has a male guardian. This could be her father, husband, brother or son. This male guardian must give her permission to obtain passports, undergo various medical procedures and get married. Opponents to guardianship laws believe these laws give women a status similar to minors.

03/08/2019 - 12:10   Jan Lhotský, Beáta Bolyová

The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. Judge Tomka, born in Banská Bystrica, has been a Member of the Court since 2003; Vice-President of the Court from 2009 to 2012; and the President of the Court from 2012 to 2015.

In contentious cases, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) settles legal disputes that are submitted to it by States. The Court can only address a dispute when the States in question have recognised its jurisdiction. No State can therefore be a party to proceedings unless it has consented thereto.[1]

02/26/2019 - 20:48   Douglass Radcliff

The Uighurs are an ethnic minority coming from the Xinjiang province in Northwestern China. The province is officially an autonomous region however, remains under control of the central government. Furthermore, there are many instances of human rights violations in relation to the Uighurs.

Who are the Uighurs?

The Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking ethnic minority in Central Asia. The majority of this ethnic group, over 10 million people, lives in China and the Xinjiang province, but over 300,000 live in the surrounding countries of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Furthermore, there have been communities established further abroad in places such as Afghanistan, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Australia, Russia and the United States.

02/06/2019 - 19:11   Jan Lhotský

For years Professor Meron served as a judge and the President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Nowadays, he presides over the tribunal that took its residual functions. What are the cases the new tribunal deals with? And how does he feel about the development of international criminal justice?

Professor Theodor Meron was born in 1930 in Poland, grew up in Israel and later moved to the US. He studied law in Jerusalem, Oxford and Harvard, and become one of the most respected scholars in international law. After the establishment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), he served as a judge and the President of ICTY. When these tribunals were about to close, he became the President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT or Mechanism) that took over the residual functions of both the former tribunals.

01/14/2019 - 19:26   Jan Lhotský

The Kosovo Specialist Chambers and the Specialist Prosecutor’s Office (KSC) is a new hybrid criminal tribunal that combines elements of both international and national law. Although being formally part of the judiciary of Kosovo, it has a seat in The Hague. Why was it established?

From 2011 onwards, the European Union strongly supported the establishment of a new hybrid tribunal that could investigate particular crimes that were allegedly committed or commenced on the territory of Kosovo.

After more than a year of preparations the court plans to move from provisional premises into its final building where the future proceedings should take place. The President of the KSC, Ekaterina Trendafilova, was very kind and shared her experiences and views with the Czech Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

12/11/2018 - 21:20   Jan Lhotský

The term “crime of aggression” in international law determines, with a certain degree of simplification, the individual criminal responsibility of a person (for example a head of state) for ordering an armed attack against a foreign state. Including this crime in the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague has been discussed for many years and in December 2017, the final decision was adopted that the crime of aggression would be included in the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court on the 17 July 2018, twenty years after the signing of its founding treaty – the Rome Statute.

In line with the changes, the judges amended the Regulations of the Court, which entered into force on 15 November 2018.

Next to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, aggression became the fourth crime that the Court will be able to deal with. What does its legal regulation look like and for what kind of cases can we expect it to be used in reality?